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The unsettled, uncertain, undecided Republican presidential primary (in one graph)

- July 8, 2015

Graph by John Sides
In “The Gamble,” our book about the 2012 presidential election, Lynn Vavreck and I charted the slow pace of elite endorsements in the 2012 Republican primary. Compared with previous years, relatively few Republican governors, U.S. senators, or members of the U.S. House endorsed a candidate before the Iowa caucus. Although Mitt Romney ultimately garnered the large majority of endorsements, making him the arguable front-runner, the fact that so many Republican officeholders sat on their hands made the primary more unsettled.
We’re now six months into 2015, and the same pattern is evident. The graph above shows that about 90 percent of key Republican leaders have yet to endorse a candidate. The percent who have endorsed is only slightly higher than at this point in 2011.
Of the 33 endorsements that we have counted, Jeb Bush has more than any other candidate (14), mostly because of endorsements from some Republican members of Congress from Florida. That’s certainly encouraging for him and supports his status as a front-runner in the prediction markets.  But I agree with Harry Enten: Bush is far from a strong front-runner at this point. The big question is whether the party coalesces around him, or any candidate, between now and the Iowa caucus.
Thanks to GW undergraduate Luis Rishi Puno for help gathering the endorsements data.
See also: “Why the Republicans can’t agree on a presidential candidate (and the Democrats have all but settled on theirs)”